June 1st, 2005
She is five years old, and only her mom calls her Isabelle.
Her room is painted yellow. She makes sure to put away her toys before she goes to bed. She is so tired that she forgets to turn on her nightlight. When her mother opens the door to check on her, she flips the switch for her. Yellow fills a tiny corner between her bed and her dresser.
“Goodnight,” her mom says. Very quietly, she leaves the room. It is a hot night. Later, it will rain, but for now it is only still. The cold front is a long way off.
She is having a dream about riding in the car with her mom.
9:30. 10:30. 11:30. 12:30. The morning of June 2nd. The rain starts, and the thunder, but her sleep is too deep. 1:30. 2:30. 3:30. The rain stops. 4:30. 4:31.
The shape sits on the edge of her bed and listens to her breathe. With his long arms he brushes hair from her face. He makes sure she doesn’t wake up. The breath goes shallow and eventually stops, but her dreams stay the same. They move undisturbed and unconnected from one idea to another.
She is five years old.
“Hi there,” he says.
The sweetest in the world. The quietest whisper.
“What’s your name?”
“Izzy,” she says. She gasps it out.
“Hi, Izzy,” he says. “How old are you?”
She is five years old.
“What year is it?”
“And where do you live?”
“And what is your house like?”
As he speaks she becomes pliable. All feeling leaves her. She can’t move, but she doesn’t know it. She doesn’t try. If she did she would find herself locked inside.
“It’s nice to meet you, Izzy,” the man says.
“It’s nice to meet you,” she mouths. Her breath has run out. He grips her forefinger and bends it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
“Izzy, do you ever get lonely?”
No response. A tiny shiver resonates out of her and into his hand. She begins to convulse – a hiccuping kind of sound as she rattles in her skin. Her dream is the same as before.
“There’s a little girl who’s right about your age who moved in a little while ago, Izzy, and she’s very lonely. I think she could use a friend. Her name is Chelsea, Izzy. I think the two of you would get along. Would you like to be her friend?”
With a rush the air returns. She wakes up at the sound of her own voice.
“Yes,” she says.
She looks around groggily and sees that her nightlight is on. For some reason she is gripping her finger very tightly. She wipes drool from her face and rolls over to sleep. The man is gone. She has a dream about monsters, and doesn’t wake up until morning.